We are taught that love hurts, and somehow love can transform us. Women are taught that somehow they can save that “Beast” and he can become that lovable and tender man that is inside. But you know what? It’s a fallacy.
We all know the ideal. Hard and Brutish man with a gruff exterior. He is the Beast/ Heathcliff/ Darcy/Insert Romantic Book or Film. He is broodish, the ultimate Byronic heroe. He will treat women with disrespect , with a feeling that somehow you are not worthwhile but under all this you know deep inside they are hurting.
If you can reach him, than you can dig deep and save yourself in the process. But I think, now is the time to being to reexamine our social constructs of love. Not only for men, but also for women.
Believe me, I know the story all too well. There is something altogether appealing, palpably delectable in trying to change that man who does not seem interested. We think of the scenario where he will coming running in the rain to catch us at the airport one last time. We will want him to realize that You Are the One.
But the reality is far different. A romantic gesture won’t guarantee a meaningful relationship.
Things Shouldn’t Be One Sided
I have fallen in love three times in my life. Or, at least, that’s what I thought at the time. Love is such an intoxicating drug that it threatens our common sense, can isolate us from our friends , and ultimately consume our lives. We just don’t see straight.
And, we can tend to not see the signs when someone is NOT in love with you. The prospect of losing that person, makes it hard to breathe. Romantic love perpetuates the feeling of sweet agony that you feel by not having What You Want.
I remember the first time I fell in love, I was really young. Now that I think of it , it was more of an escape from a really tough time in my life. i felt like loving him was the one thing I could control. He had a bright smile and a nasal laugh and a troubled home life. I felt so protective of him, took on his problems tried my best to support him. But no matter how hard I tried, he always was going out with other girls and I was always waiting in the corner for him to notice… ( Which, by the way, he did but of course only when I was no longer interested.)
I was to discover this bitter truth much later but here’s the gist of it : Some men ( and probably women too) hate closing doors. They don’t want to go in but they like to have the possibility that it might be open. My last roommate told me it this way “It’s like feeding baby chickens. You don’t want to be responsible for them but you feed them crumbs once in awhile to keep them alive”.
But at the time, I didn’t see it. I analyzed with my friends every last minute detail that he did. I would recount all the conversations we had. “You think that when he looked at me this way, and said he would die without me, that it meant something? “.
But the answer was not in what he did, but what he didn’t do. As I said in a haiku :
Dijiste mas en tu silencio
Que en las eternidades dichas
Which translates “You said more in your silence than in the eternity spoken”. And even then, there was something in the back of mind that thought “well maybe he will change… maybe he will realize that I matter”. ( Which he did a couple years later, but for a visa. Yes he is one of those included in awkward marriage proposals around the world.
When we fall in love, we sometimes cease to think logically. At least, that’s how we are taught to think. It is not just women, men will do this as well. They will seek that one girl who is high maintenance, who will treat them badly and act like it is a privilege for them to even be noticed by them. They will become playthings for women, and love it.
How, exactly, is this a healthy pattern of love?
Love should not just be a means to an end
We all want to fall in love. But a lot of times, it has to do with feeling that our own self worth is wrapped up in this person. We think that by falling in love, all our problems will be resolved. The end to a romantic story is always the kiss and the beautiful music. The end.
But if you think of real life, of our relationships with our parents and our siblings and friends we see how messy love is. Love begins , truly once we learn to accept one another. A lot of times, we can be repeating codependent patterns which can be traced back to our family structure.
The way I see this is, if we accept someone, love them for who they are we aren’t going to think they are going to change in the long end. Obviously, you change and grow in the process but if we don’t love the person now, at this minute, and be willing to deal with all that it entails than we probably won’t change our minds.
Love comes from within. You won’t be able to love anyone if you can’t love yourself. I learnt that the hard way. I didn’t love myself enough when I loved that boy. I was placing all my self worth on him, and expecting him to live up to that expectation. No one could possibly live up to these pedestals we place on others.
The Stigma of Being Alone
Why do we accept the pain of being in a relationship? Because we think that it somehow is better than being alone. But why is being alone such a huge stigma in our society? Why do we think that there is something wrong with someone if they are alone?
Part of this is quite positive. Humanity is built to be collective, to create families to grow within our societies. Yes, there is an eccentricity labelled with being alone , with not having anyone. And this is a good thing because we are not individuals, we need love and meaning to survive.
But does this mean that you put up with an unhappy, unsettling, unsatisfying relationship purely because you do not want to be alone? Does this mean that you will put up with someone verbal abuse, someone calling you fat or ugly or stupid just because you don’t want to be alone? Is this why we create patterns , wait it out, try for it to “work out” based on this fallacy?
Sometimes we grow thinking that we have one soul mate, and that one person is waiting for us. This means, that if that “soul mate” is less than ideal, it’s part of us and we have to put up with it. In a way, our hatred of ourselves , our masochistic tendencies are what truly creates this twisted ideal.
How about redefining love by thinking that love, true love, is a marriage of the mind body and spirit. It means that we truly fall in love with are the virtues and spiritual sense they have for one another. This feeling that, their love was strengthened by their shared pain and hardship, but also a sense that they prefer others over themselves. The sense that, together they are creating a mini society where they can serve others as well as themselves. That way, the focus is not on how much the person loves you, but how much you love others together. It’s a pretty deep concept. How the heck do you have a spiritual love for a person, where you grow and form a family in a spiritual bond as opposed to just a romantic one?
Does this mean that all of the above becomes nil? No, because first off you have to be on the assumption that you both have come together and want to be together and in the journey you build love.